The Music of Words

This badge was sent to me as a gift from my sister in England (thoughtful sibling that she is). It neatly combines two of my interests: Typewriters and Haruki Murakami.


Normally, you wouldn’t find the two together.


An exception are the type bars on this cover of Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words, a biography written by Jay Rubin, a professor of Japanese literature who has translated several of Murakami’s novels.


In an excerpt from Rubin’s book, Murakami describes his writing style thus:

My style boils down to this: First of all I never put more meaning into a sentence than is absolutely necessary. Second, the sentences have to have rhythm. This is something I learned from music, especially jazz. In jazz, great rhythm is what makes great improvising possible.

It’s true. There’s something about the rhythm of his writing (like a good Jazz record) that makes you feel relaxed.


Murakami is a jazz fan and a record collector. Prior to writing full-time he owned and ran his own jazz bar called Peter the Cat.


Jazz is cool. Cats are cool. Murakami is cool.


Not so cool are his detractors. As Rubin tells us: Many commentators take his popularity as a sign that there is something wrong, not only with Murakami’s writing, but with all of contemporary Japanese literature:

“Authors today are writing for the passing tastes of a young audience.”

As if there was anything wrong with that.

“… Their [Japanese readers] fascination has been with vacuous manufacturers of disposable entertainment”.

Believe it or not, they’re talking about books!

Disposable entertainment? Throwaway fiction? No. Something tells me Haruki Murakami will be remembered long after his critics have been forgotten.


After-all, put words to music and they’re much harder to forget.

4 thoughts on “The Music of Words

  1. “Something tells me Haruki Murakami will be remembered long after his critics have been forgotten.”
    You’re absolutely right.
    I never knew about the jazz connection, it explains a lot!


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